A study by e61 Institute has examined the decisions that drive Australia’s gender pay gap. 

The report sheds light on discrepancies not just across different sectors but more crucially within the same occupations. 

It reveals that female finance professionals earn approximately the same hourly rate as male nurses, despite their male counterparts in finance being the second highest earners after medical professionals. 

This is one of several gender-based wage discrepancies prevalent even within high-paying sectors.

The study quantifies the impact of occupational choices - where men and women diverge in their career paths - on the gender wage gap. 

Only about 20 per cent of the gender pay disparity can be attributed to men and women working in occupations with different pay rates, suggesting that the choice of profession alone does not account for the broader wage inequalities.

The majority of the gender wage gap, about 80 per cent, is driven by differences in pay for the same occupational roles. 

This suggests there are systemic issues in wage-setting practices and inherent biases within workplaces.

Contrary to common assumptions, the study finds that variations in personal characteristics such as full-time employment status, education levels, dependents, and ATAR scores do not significantly explain the pay differences within occupations nor the occupational sorting between genders.

The analysis further highlights that marriage and parenthood have a differential impact on women’s hourly earnings compared to men's. 

These life choices are significant contributors to the wage gap within occupations, demonstrating how societal norms and expectations can affect economic outcomes.

The study found that among university-educated individuals with comparable ATARs, women are less likely to enter higher-paying career options like those in STEM fields. This suggests that educational achievements do not necessarily translate into equitable career opportunities or earnings.

The study employs the Duncan Segregation Index to measure occupational segregation, indicating that a substantial redistribution of men or women across professions would be necessary to achieve a balanced representation across occupations.

This detailed analysis by e61 calls for a critical reassessment of how wage policies and employment practices contribute to the ongoing gender pay gap in Australia. 

It suggests a need for targeted policy interventions and corporate practices that not only encourage gender diversity in all sectors, particularly high-paying ones but also actively address and correct the implicit biases that perpetuate wage inequalities. 

The full study is accessible here (PDF).